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08 April 2016 @ 01:04 pm
Why I Still Read Bleach  
Since the reveal of Urahara’s ban kai and Kenpachi’s ban kai in less than a span of a month, it’s been hitting people that Bleach is really ending. I’ve even heard a few speculate that we’ve got only a couple fights left—to which I say woah, Nellie. I know we’re seeing wonders only dreamt of fourteen years ago, but so much more remains untold in the story. Aizen’s part, for one. Where does Aizen, Kubo’s most beloved, the man who was once arguably the top manga villain of his era, figure in restoring the universe to its rightful order after he once aimed to sit on the very throne of the Soul King? And speaking of illusionary zanpakutou, we’ve yet to see Shinji’s ban kai—what the hell does THAT thing do? Then there’s the role of the Fullbringers being trained by the Shiba Cannon Mistress, Kukaku. Uryuu’s fight with Haschwalth may be the main event for this summer, but there are so many other events yet to come—Bleach has years left.

That said, I do feel a true sense of having come through the dark woods, over the high mountain, and now being on the straight path home. I expect Kubo to try to spook me or throw a crazy snake in the road here and there, but somehow it is starting to feel familiar now—like, the narrative is coming to a natural conclusion. Just about everyone and his sister predicted that Yachiru would be Kenpachi’s sword. That was a fan theory going back ages. Grimmjow rollicking around in the plot being an audience-pleaser is no surprise either; I remember rolling my eyes over the debates as to whether he was alive or dead, but I never doubted he was FINE. Same goes for Kira. Hell, call me crazy for thinking that Ulquiorra will return to throw his Chekov’s lanza at some point, but I’ve been batting 1000 with these guys returning (It helps that Kubo has a hard time killing characters—and I knew he would NEVER kill Byakuya, like hell he wouldn’t). Ulquiorra may have had a perfect death, but he’s always had “Rise From the Ashes 2” written all over him.

The most activity my fanblog bleachness saw was back in 2009, during the Lust Arc preceding Ulquiorra’s death. Back then, Bleach had a whirlwind of fans and fan controversy to boot. When Ulquiorra died, there was a huge reverberation in the fandom as it tried to process the Arrancar arc, many finding that last scene touching but ultimately unsatisfying, especially in comparison to how the Soul Society arc had ended—which, I’d always argued, was Kubo’s point. The man loves parallels.

Bleach seemed to die with Ulquiorra. It never recovered its popularity after that time. I'd always championed it along, through its most plodding post SS days and even unto the despised Fullbringer arc (which I loved--it only took a little over a year to tell and it retold the ur-conception of Ichigo's power in a way that added some mythological oomph to the story--I, for one, wasn't flipping my cans over jokes that didn't hit the spot or Orihime munching one too many donuts) I knew even as I loved Bleach when it was floundering--it's pretty hard to ignore Kubo’s propensity to ignore fan favorites while creating new characters no one was much interested in. And another flaw he developed post SS was structuring fights that seemed to have no real emotional stakes... and yet, he pushed his story forward, playing with parables, toying with visual puns, amusing himself with high literary allusions and making dick jokes, and then every once in a while pulling off a stunning gaiden like Turn Back the Pendulum or Memories in the Rain—both well-told, poetically dense tales that not only stood alone as good stories but changed the main storyline forever. I’ll always love Kubo. He’s come back time and time again for me, if Ulquiorra hasn’t yet.

I realized the other day that I rarely check my own Bleach fanblog anymore. I still religiously read Bleach. I still love the hell out of the series, even as thousands have left it, bemoaning its convoluted plot and artsy excesses. I probably love Bleach as much for those very flaws as anything else, the way it lingers on a close-ups of doorknob or makes an excessive metaphor out of a moon sliver that looks like a toe-nail clipping in the sky.

When Ishida Uryuu, my favorite character, had his recent moment of realizing that there was some flaw in Haschwalth’s foresight, smiled his little Ishida half-smile, made some speech in keeping with Bleach’s great theme of destiny and materialized his bow, I flailed to the left, flailed to the right and fell out of my chair like electrocuted.  I still think that maybe after Ishida goes Volstandig and after Ichigo reaches Yhwach (yeah, like right, Ichigo is just going to kill the dude in his sleep—not gonna be that easy), something bad will happen, and we may end up with that teased at Ishida/Ichigo fight after all.

When Urahara said ban kai not long ago, there was similar flailing. Benihime may be my favorite zan yet—she’s truly gorgeous and terrifying in all ways and I’m certain we haven’t seen the last of her. Askin was the most elegant and satisfying opponent, and his death was savage—wow, what a way to go--and I'm  sure he’s dead because the four reiatsu that Neliel senses are Urahara’s, Yoruichi’s, Yoru’s brother’s, and Grimmjow’s. That story of that rescue has to be told too—and Kubo did promise us a Kisuke/Yoruichi backstory. I’m not worried for Kisuke’s life for one second. I do admit I was scared for Shunsui back there during his chapters but his ban kai seemed all about suicide so can you blame me? I guess I was having a bad week. Anyway, Urahara will be fine. Let’s see how he gets out of this pickle.

When Kenpachi got ban kai, though, I didn’t fail or get up and fanboy whoot, I sat in my chair and outright cried. I don’t know why. That story is one of the loveliest in Bleach. Say what you will about Kenpachi being an overpowered, one-note character but his relationship with Yachiru, the little pink-haired foundling, is one of Kubo’s best done. The whole theme of naming which echoes over and over in the story, the communing with one’s true soul, the idea that this little girl is Kenpachi’s beast killer nature and she’s been by his side all along—didn’t we all know this? It was like the best of revelations, to understand something that we’ve understood for years.  There was a part of me that very much needed to see that little girl tell a man who had just been splatted onto the ground by all that was irrational and mighty that he was silly and needed to get up, that he had the power and it was called “ban kai.” I cried.

I love Bleach. It’s moments like that one I’d waited years for.

Ariel: Warrior Ladyarielhime on April 9th, 2016 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your post. I absolutely love it and I agree with you 100%.
_debbiechan_: Ishida Water (experiment)_debbiechan_ on April 10th, 2016 11:08 am (UTC)

Thank you! <3
Super Nintendo Chalmers: Ulquiorrastrawberries_85 on April 10th, 2016 05:28 am (UTC)
Bleach fandom lingered on as it tried to come to terms with Ulquiorra's death (and as it tried to remain positive of his return), but it was slowly crumbling. 2009 was such an amazing time to be in Bleach fandom.

I have so much to catch up on since I took a break from Bleach, but I never stopped loving it.
_debbiechan_: ulqui gif_debbiechan_ on April 10th, 2016 11:05 am (UTC)

2009 was indeed. The Lust arc, as maligned and misunderstood as its been, was truly stunning, and it had the fandom on edge--not just shippers but everyone. Ulquiorra was a great character. His slipping away into dust was so heartbreaking that Kubo saw fit to try and recreate that moment again at the end of the FB arc with Rukia dissolving into pieces before Ichigo's eyes as Ichigo lost his powers and sure, the moment was profound but it didn't have the impact of Ulquiorra's great loss before his newfound understanding of the heart with Orihime. Nothing in Bleach ever will--that moment stands as one of Bleach's all time great moments.

Bleach lost popularity for many reasons, not just Ulquiorra's death. I saw shippers leave in droves because there seemed to be no hope of Orihime remembering Ulquiorra at all and her character seemed to take a quick nose-dive into Ichigo fangirling humor (I do believe that was a huge misstep on Kubo's part to lighten up her character after the terrible darkness of the Arrancar arc but it only served to make her look shallow, like she'd learned nothing). People were mad because Rukia kept taking long vacations like Kubo didn't know what to do with her except have her prop up Ichigo's character (SRSLY Kubo owes Rukia bigtime--between Rukia's fight in HM until her getting ban kai, she was a much under-used principal) and then there was the huge Zangetsu is really a Quincy twist--which pissed people off to no end, but I took with a grain of salt, partly because I love Quincy and because I got that beautiful backstory about Masaki. As long as Kubo backs up his crazy with intimate character backstories, I'm good. His roster of too many characters, though, is a sure-fire formula, for losing fans over years as characters go to the wayside.

I'm also glad to see you here. I will always be grateful for you and those UlquiHime days. I shipped them too, in my way, and still love Ulquiorra so much. I remain, as always, though, someone who reads Bleach more for itself than any one character or ship---even my beloved Uryuu---like even right now, I'm not in that much of a hurry to get to his fight because I want Yachiru explanation and (wow) just a little more Ken-chan, just a little, lol. I'm pretty stupid for Bleach and it feels a little lonely here these days, so I'm glad when old friends pop by.
Super Nintendo Chalmersstrawberries_85 on April 11th, 2016 02:51 am (UTC)
Was the Lust arc really that maligned? I don't remember that, but maybe that's because nostalgia glosses things over? Or because I was rather insulated within the Ulquiorra & Ulquihime fandoms and there was just so much love and appreciation there, good discussion, awesome fanart amd hope for Ulquiorra's return. His death was indeed one of the great moments of Bleach. It still tears me up when I dwell on it too long. As beautiful as Rukia and Ichigo's parting was, it didn't have the same impact because Rukia hadn't just learned of the heart only to dissolve into ash. :(

That is true, but it'll always sadden me when I think of all the amazing fans that left with Ulquiorra, either soon after or years after. Lots of loyal Ulquihime fans tried to hold on to hope, (and we had that moment in Unmasked) but I think following the Fullbringer arc, that was the final nail in the coffin. People couldn't wait for Orihime's development anymore, they moved onto other series and pairings that were meeting their expectations. And then there was the insane fandom drama, forum death, migration to Tumblr and fandom simply dispersed.

Kubo really did disappoint me with where he took Orihime's character and with the lack of Rukia, but it seems like nothing can make me hate Bleach. I don't really know what to think of Orihime right now, but I haven't completely given up on her. I just don't see how Kubo can leave her hanging. Was there really lots of hate for Quincy Zangetsu? I guess it did take people by surprise. I was pretty indifferent to it, I just liked the Isshin/Masaki backstory. All the new characters didn't really do it for me.

Thank you. I'm grateful to you as well Debbie. I think you were often a voice of reason in fandom, even to us Ulquihime shippers. Kubo will have to do something incredibly, mind numbingly stupid for me to leave Bleach completely. I've always been interested in where all the characters will end up, even if the plot has been dragging on. I'm on the sidelines these days. I have no idea where fandom (what's left of it) is and I am not sure I want to join it again.
_debbiechan_: 60secondcoming_debbiechan_ on April 13th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)

yeah, people did hate the Lust arc for being a lot of black ink and the beginning of the end of Kubo's excesses in style--remember all THE HEART jokes? I loved it for all its poetry and even for all that black ink of despair on the page--I mean, it was perfect. Ulqui's forms were perfect and resonated with artistic representations of angels---I could go on forever. People hated it for how Orihime's character was trashed and didn't see how she overcame her fear (of Hollow, specifically in Ichigo) and literally held her hand towards Ulquiorra after he asked her point blank if she feared him. There was no more clear parallel of her growth there--it wasn't what people wanted--sure, she had still failed in some crucial ways, WAYS SHE HERSELF ADMITTED IN THE ARC, but people hated the arc for what they wanted from Orihime and didn't get. Others hated it for how it ignored Uryuu--I was, like-what? Uryuu was a shining example of moral righteousness fighting for everyone and showing his friends how its done. The arc painted him as the one person who DIDN'T fuck up and I couldn't have been happier--I didn't care that there was no IshiHime ship there, because the arc itself about what truly survives death--and that is the heart--and even a hollow could grasp that (even if--sob!--he could not grasp Orihime's hand in time) Yeah, an amazing story. If people didn't appreciate it, too bad.
Grenat: Gehescarboucle on April 15th, 2016 09:49 pm (UTC)
I don't know, I was pretty pissed off at the way Kubo handled the heart stuff and Inoue's character, so to me, Ulquiorra's death was "meh", a way to make Inoue look good. It pissed me off to NO END.

IchiRuki parting tho was so beautiful and bittersweet. I knew though that it wasn't the last time they'd be together and I'm still pissed at Kubo with how he handled Rukia's (dis)appearances until pretty much her bankai.

I have a love and hate relationship with the FB arc. I was utterly displeased with it and Inoue disgusted me. However, it was an arc that made Ichigo grow a lot as a character, or showed his growth, how he matured and what side he is on, no matter what. Most of it was unbearable though. Chad got the shaft in favour of Inoue though. Just thinking about it it upsets me again because it was a time when Kubo desperatly tried to make us love her and everyone was NOPING OUT so fast out of this shit it wasn't funny.

I still don't understand the two new shinigami that were introduced back in the beginning of the Quincy arc... like, why? They have NO POINT at all. They take up space. Other characters could have been used. Hell, I don't even remember their names - nor do I care about them.

And I'm still mad at how Unohana died. Yep.

Bleach still retains my attention, and can still make me go "awesome!" like with Urahara and Benihime. But I'm afraid that to push some pairings, Kubo can go out of his way to make stupid decisions that kind of kill either the pairing either the character (hello GinRan). Mind you, I'm not talking about Origo which is non-existant. I'm right now thinking about adult!Hitsugaya and I'm really crossing fingers HARD there so that he won't use him to make Momo fall for Hitsu. Because it is disgusting. And so underhanded. I know not all the pairings can be like IchiRuki, obviously, but still, that would be a LOW blow.
_debbiechan_: BANKAI BABY_debbiechan_ on April 15th, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)

I still don't understand the two new shinigami that were introduced back in the beginning of the Quincy arc... like, why? They have NO POINT at all. They take up space. Other characters could have been used. Hell, I don't even remember their names - nor do I care about them."

Looool. I remembered them just the other day w/you and fuck if I can remember their names. We used to make so much fun of them. I wonder if we should place bets as to whether Kubo ever mentions them again--they LANDED LIKE THUD LOSERS with the fandom and he just went ooops, ok this time instead of trying to sell them.

I agree he tried to sell Orihime as cute in the FB arc and it backfired like bigtime--I guess Kubo isn't as young and hip to some phenomenon as he tries to be. And rhe ecchi stuff with a high school girl was awkward to say the least.

I thought Orihime came off as pretty damn flawed in the Lust arc, not likable--but maybe Kubo was trying to sell pitiful--as in vulnerable. I think he finds that attractive but I'm not sure--he sort of has the knight in armor complex like Uryuu, only with some pervy stuff thrown in. It's peculiar.

The Quincy arc had some boring fights there for a bit but I'm all excited now. I've pretty much been excited since Ichibe's fight and Rukia's ban kai. I loved some of the Elites, esp Gerard (chickenritter was a blow-out though). I'm waiting to see Bya's power up--honest, Shiro-chan's took me by surprise so I'm pumped this week. I'm all ready.
_debbiechan_: Orihime DETERMINED_debbiechan_ on April 15th, 2016 10:29 pm (UTC)
and I do hope for Orihime. THIS is her last shot. I need to see her fight more than I need air, I think. I know I'll see it. It won't be enough for the vast majority of fandom but it may be enough for me. Kubo will try---he has a lot to make up for but I know he'll try to salvage all the mess he's made of his jumps and starts and missteps with her character over the years.
Grenatescarboucle on April 16th, 2016 08:13 am (UTC)
I thought Orihime came off as pretty damn flawed in the Lust arc, not likable--but maybe Kubo was trying to sell pitiful--as in vulnerable.

What me, and many other Rukia fans hated about the "heart" thing in HM... was how he gave it to Inoue even though Inoue had *no mean* of knowing it, since it was all in Rukia's memories. We felt he robbed Rukia of her understanding about it (AND HER THEME) to give it to Inoue - who after that did 3 steps back and was absolutely awful during the whole Ichigo/Ulquiorra fight.

I do think that he'll try to make amends on that about Inoue, and that she'll eventually protect Uryuu, but man, she's too far gone for me to enjoy her presence.

I'm not sure that we'll see Byakuya's power up during this fight. IMHO Byakuya will have another guy to fight. Right now they need to destroy the Quincy symbol that is in that Quincy's body - it reminds me of OPM ha. So a tag team seems to be necessary.
_debbiechan_: Rukia_debbiechan_ on April 18th, 2016 06:31 pm (UTC)

re Rukia and the heart. She identified it as the Bleach theme; it wasn't her theme persay--she introduced the theme because she herself is the person most fit to embody the heart. She was taught the heart by Kaien and re-learned the heart in her fight with Aaro and that was beautiful. That fight was honestly the heart of the whole Bleach series, to work the metaphor to death--it told what matters in Bleach. What Orihime did was reinforce the lesson--I thought that was necessary, and what a good theme does--Orihime and Ulquiorra both learned the heart and paralleled Rukia and Kaien. Kubo is brilliant when he does stuff like that, imv.

I think you're right about destroying that thing inside Gerard--isn't he supposed to BE THE HEART OF THE SOUL KING HIMSELF? Seems I remember that? Seems like that ball thing inside him won't be easy to slice but like Yachiru said, there's nothing Ken-chan's sword can't slice. Ken-chan may be the one to do it. I'm just crazy to see Shinji's ban kai--but yeah, maybe we're going to cool it on the ban kai reveals for a moment.
pony_rockspony_rocks on April 10th, 2016 09:45 am (UTC)
Glad to see you posting, Debbie!

I admit I am torn over Bleach these days and sometimes I just skip through pages, bored or annoyed. But then come moments which never fail to move me or make me laugh, and those are the moments I will stay with Bleach until the end, whenever it may come.
_debbiechan_: Ishida hearts_debbiechan_ on April 10th, 2016 11:07 am (UTC)


missing you--always mean to check in and yes, I'll be there until the end so I'm happy you are too. You're one of the best fans (and smartest people) I've been privileged to meet. Much love always.
pony_rockspony_rocks on April 10th, 2016 12:35 pm (UTC)
My dear Debbie - as always, you are too kind to me. :)
(And I will not overstate when I say you are a great inspiration to me.)
luminous85: pic#125643901luminous85 on April 13th, 2016 11:05 am (UTC)
Always glad to see you post here! It feels like home.

So when we learn in canon that Yachiru is Kenpachi's bankai, the first thing I want to do is run to my friend that originally welcomed me into the Bleach fandom to tell her all about it; but you see she left the fandom about six or seven years ago. I find myself saddened by this, but I also know that I still get excited and embrace Bleach each week it comes out regardless. I just have to know what happens. These character's that have moved me to the point of becoming a better artist deserve my passion for their story. All things considered many of the characters do vanish for long periods of time; but as long as I am inspired to keep buying the Bleach manga, the characters' universe will never disappear. I will take solace in that thought even when the manga ends.

All the love friend!
_debbiechan_: dreamboy_debbiechan_ on April 13th, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC)

Hey Lumi,
it's been a delight to watch your art over the years. I miss people in fandom hugely. I remember everything though--the heart is always with you, you know, hahahaha.

Love you.
♀*La Muerte Chiquita*♀: Chadapprovesla_kalaka on April 15th, 2016 10:54 pm (UTC)
Oooh, loove your leach talks Debbie. I can say and think a lot of stuff against the manga and WTF to no end but it has given me so much I would always be forever grateful to it: amazing friends like you, a drive to keep drawing to get better and inspiration to make a comic. Kubo is part of my sacred mangaka square, along Kentarou Miura, Takehiko Inoue, and the amazing kaoru Mori. There are others but they are at the top of my list.

Kubo's character desing is top notch although early Bleach and SS arc has the best and far into the HM arc you can find jewels like Ulquiorra's release. I loved his chapter titles with the guys in fancy clothes and the cleverness of them ("In Sane We Trust" is the best title EVER, EVERRRR!!), his color spreads, hands down piece of ART in my eyes, and his clothes design is superb (not so much these days)

Sadly i've strayed, finding better narratives like Noragami or more backgrounds in Fairy Tail xD IMHO i'm reading BERSERK again and that damn manga is destroying me :_D but the art is mindblowing and finally reading SANDMAN (my first no-manga to read... Delirium is a babe)

Oh well, coming back to the Bleach; i am on the sidelines, i just read and that's it, unless is something appealing enough to make me say something I keep silent, i am like this when things doesn't caugh my attention, although it also me not xpressing all what I think about the world, i always keep to myself and communication is always hard, cause I always forgot to express myself, i prefer art for that.

Bleach is not what I loved at first anymore, i am buying the first volumes here in Mexico and dear god the difference is so great, the feelings the emotions are not anymore in the battles and the way Kubo drew those sequences compared the ones in the current manga, yeah, not the same.

Orihime is another issue cause she deserved better although It's not about having hopes about her but knowing that she is a good person trying to do better even in the face of failures, a teenager girl which makes her so relatable, I was mad at her for uryuu's sake but to be honest I liked her flawed self, although Kubo pushed that one too much in his own story, the current dress is cringeworthy.

I am hanging here cause there are some nice moments and Uryuu and IshiHime (but mostly Uryuu who also deserved better and doesn't get as much exposition and panel time, another under used character).

I like YW design, love that type of men *_*

Adam Epp: Kenpachiadam_epp on April 16th, 2016 01:30 am (UTC)
I'm still just waiting for the series to end before I read it again.
_debbiechan_: ken chan!_debbiechan_ on April 16th, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)

Great to hear from you, even if you aren't reading now. See you at the end. We'll have a great talk then. There's plenty to like and dislike. I'm still having fun but I'm one of a diminishing group.
_debbiechan_: All Turn Out OK_debbiechan_ on April 18th, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC)

Oh Adam. LJ was borked when you posted that link so I only now read it. Like all best reveals, I knew it was coming all along--it was still sweet though--perfectly lovely. I left her a note and I'm so happy. Blessings and mazel tov. The things this fandom has seen.

I think I'm crying now.
peca_06peca_06 on April 18th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks Deb. I really needed to hear you give Bleach some loving again ;___; . I do love Bleach for "its convoluted plot and artsy excesses" as well lol Kubo can make as many doorknob close ups as he wants. He will always be my number one and I would forever love Bleach above all manga out there. I religiously follow it as well and like you said, there is still plenty left to be told. I don't see it ending any time soon.

Bleach fandom has been one of the best things it has happened in my life and I made many wonderful friends who I adore, through it. It will forever remain in my heart ^_^ <333.

Kubo sensei is such an inspiration and as an illustrator and an artist myself, I can only hope I can be 1/15 as good as he is at storytelling someday :P . There is just no way I can be as good as he is but it is something to strive for -_-.
_debbiechan_: PUPPY_debbiechan_ on April 18th, 2016 06:05 pm (UTC)

Hey Peggy, sorry I'm just not around on LJ but I love you. Thanks for being crazy about Bleach with me. You're just not an amazing professional artist but a good person with a big heart. What did you name your new doggie? <3
peca_06peca_06 on April 18th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)

My hubby and I decided to go with Bailey ^_^ (kinda like my favorite drink lol)
_debbiechan_: ichigo kitty_debbiechan_ on April 18th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)

That's adorbs! And yeah, I could use some of that right now! Puppy love (I have two doggies) OR some Baileys (too hot here for that particular drink but I'm stressed).

I'll go pet some cats and doggies and try to de-stress now--see you around --because Bleach will be fun as the end draws near!
peca_06: FUFUFUpeca_06 on April 18th, 2016 06:50 pm (UTC)
Maybe Bailey's on the rocks ;D hehe

Petting is the best stress reliever (my blood pressure is through the roof lately, had to take meds for it :P ). I just have good sessions with Ozzy on the couch or the bed (now I'll have two of them :D ), while reading a good book or watching a TV show.

Bleach is sure going out with a BANG ^^ and I'll be there to witness it and share with you and others.
See you around my dear <3333

Edited at 2016-04-18 06:51 pm (UTC)
Lus CoutoLus Couto on May 20th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
and that´s why I continue to visit this page :D